Still unable to reach an agreement on the proposed expansion of a construction debris landfill in Lorton despite months of negotiations, county officials and landfill owner EnviroSolutions Inc. will continue to negotiate through next month.
Under its current operating permit, the Lorton Landfill must close by 2018 and ESI is allowed to maintain a recycling center on its property adjacent to the landfill.
The company originally applied to extend the closing date to 2040, expand the landfill capacity by building a large berm to support the landfill and to develop the site as a green energy park as the landfill operations wind down.
The green energy park originally included solar panels, wind turbines, a methane capture system and geothermal system, all of which would be used to generate electricity.
In a moderated proposal released on Monday, a day before the Board of Supervisors was to vote on the landfill expansion, ESI said it would further accelerate the proposed closing date to 2032, the second such concession.
The new proposal also reduced the proposed height of the berm to a maximum of 52 feet and eliminated wind turbines from the plan, proposing the addition of more solar panels instead. Some residents have raised concerns about the visual impact of the wind turbines and their potential effects on birds, including the bald eagles that reside at nearby Mason Neck.
However, the framework approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Tuesday was even more restrictive.
Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At large) said she believes the county will need some construction debris landfill capacity for some time to come, and she remains committed to developing green energy projects.
However, she said, “I have become concerned that the original application goes too far and would have too much of an impact on the surrounding community.”
Under the board proposal, the landfill would have to close by the end of 2025 and the berm could not exceed 20 feet in height, although Bulova said her preference would be to not have a berm at all.
The berm is necessary to support solar panel installation on top of the landfill after it closes, as well as for expanding the landfill capacity, according to ESI representative Conrad Mehan.
Bulova’s proposal would provide for solar panels and methane capture “in areas that would not require the need for structural support.”
Both the updated ESI proposal and the board proposal would allow ESI to maintain a recycling facility after the landfill is closed. The original proposal would have used that site for solar panels.
Negotiations to reach a compromise position will continue until the board takes the matter up again July 29. However, Bulova noted, the county is “pretty firm” on some of the parameters included in the framework for negotiation.
Mehan said that ESI is glad to have the additional time to improve the application and to address the concerns of the board and the community.
“We’re always willing to engage the county and stakeholders,” Mehan said. “We’re committed to addressing the environmental objectives of the county” and providing construction debris landfill capacity needed to support redevelopment, he added.
Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), who represents the section of the county around the landfill and is a staunch opponent of the expansion, said it is essential that community representatives be included in the process moving forward.
He also said that he wants to do whatever is possible to ensure that, whatever date is set for landfill closure, that it is final.
“Whatever we do here, it has got to be the end,” he said.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (D-Springfield) noted that the board can’t bind future boards, saying he didn’t want to mislead the public by suggesting that the agreement can’t be altered in the future.